In this series 'Wedding SOS' you can find some valuable tips on how to get the best out of your Wedding Photographer. Let's face it, you've probably spent a big chunk of the budget on the Photographer and/or videographer (See 'Wedding SOS: Photographers vs Videographers') and you want to ensure that you are getting your moneys worth. You can never be 100% sure as to what will happen on the day and how your photographer will engage not only with you and your guests but also with other suppliers or your venues staff too. Wether you've gone all out on spending thousands or tried to keep the costs down by finding someone willing to provide free or very affordable services the situation is the same although experience does dictate someones abilities.
The choice out there is huge and is almost becoming a job in itself looking through countless websites. Nothing quite jumps out at you and you're pretty sure you've seen this one website a few times already!
Don't panic, just like hiring a professional to build an extension on your home for example there are some easy steps you can take to make a great initial choice.
Look at the quality of the image, not the content.
Just like buying a new home people often look at the decoration and furnishings and look past the potential in the property and much can be said the same when looking for a photographer. Clients tend to look at the dress or the little details and forget the fact that they are looking for a photographer and not a wedding planner. The only thing the photographer controls is what they are focussed on and the timing. Change your attention to the detail in the photograph as much as that all important 'fuzzy' feeling you get from looking at certain images. Has the photographer focused on the correct detail in the image? Have they captured the feeling of the moment? Don't worry about that dress that you wouldn't have chosen or the wedding venue that really shouldn't be one!
Remember that there are many different factors with regards to Location, Weather and Volume of Guests so try not to picture your wedding when looking at examples it's really about the quality and the feeling you get from them.
I tend to provide a variety of styles from can-did "unknowingly photographed" shots to creative techniques as well as some more posed/staged images. If you show the same album to different generations they will both like different styles of images throughout so it's important to me to capture the day in different ways.
Meet them together
It's important to build a relationship with your photographer and to make sure you feel comfortable around them. If Aunty June comes up to take a photo you are more than willing to give up a huge smile and grab the nearest friends or family members and that's how you should feel when your photographer approaches. I'm afraid to say it gents but you are the worst for being camera shy so it's important for you both to meet the photographer together and make friends with them. An engagement style shoot is great for this before the wedding as it fills the gap between meeting the photographer and not seeing them again for a year or more!
If you don't click with them or you don't feel confident in their work then don't be afraid to move on and continue searching but do give them feedback later on about why you decided not to choose them as this is a great way for them to look at their approach.
I love meeting couples for the first time, I admit I am easy to get along with but I treat it more like meeting a friend for coffee and just having a chat about their wedding!
Ask for Examples
Most photographers websites or brochures will of course contain their best work which is a great thing to see the kind of quality you can expect, however, be sure to ask for more at an initial meeting. Ask them to bring along copies of their prints if they also offer this as part of their services. What you are looking for are more examples of different aspects of the day, think about what is more important to you is it the photographs of the ceremony itself? or the shots of you both after you have just tied the knot? whichever is the case ask to see plenty of examples so you know that you won't be dissapointed after the day is over and it's too late.
If you have chosen a new photographer with little or no examples to show then this can be a little trickier to gauge but you could suggest an engagement style shoot with the two of you to see what kind of work they can produce. Don't be afraid to ask this as what you may find is that they will be very wiling to gain the experience and obtain some examples to show future prospective clients.
Testimonials are also a great way to hear how other clients have experienced your photographer. Glowing reviews from happy couples are never given just out of thin air so you can have strong trust in these.
I always prepare for this when meeting couples for the first time, I bring along my iPad and they are free to look at a selection of examples from brides preparations, the ceremony and also those traditional group shots. It gives me an opportunity to talk about my experience with different aspects of the day whilst showing that I can be versatile.
Keep in touch
Once you've made your choice, paid your deposit and checked 'Choosing a photographer' off your list you can get on with other plans knowing that you've secured a big part of the day. Don't forget about your photographer though, keep an eye on their website and social media to stay up to date on what they are doing.
I always recommend my clients share their wedding Pinterest boards with me so I can get a picture of their ideas for the day but also to see how their plans change as the day approaches. I also suggest sending me ideas for photographs and even other photographers shots as inspiration - I'm not the "you hired me so you'll get what I give you" kind of photographer.
Hopefully this helps you in your quest and maybe even take some of the stress out of choosing the right photographer. It would be great to hear your comments below or sharing your stories of finding your own wedding photographer.